The modern workspace is full of potential perils and health hazards, though they may be hard to spot at first glance. Everything from your chair, your desk, your computer, to even the lighting can be damaging your body, and may even lead you to an early grave if you’re not careful.
In this article, we point out the top 4 ways the modern workplace can be dangerous for your health, and how to address them.
1. Your Chair is Killing your Back and Neck
The average American spends up to 13 hours a day sitting, while in Canada, it’s around 10 hours. With so much time spent sitting down, you better make sure your chair supports your body as well as possible. A poorly designed office chair can lead to debilitating health problems over time, most notably back and neck pain and issues.
How to Fix It: Get an ergonomic office chair that supports you in the right places, from your back, your arms, to your neck. It should be highly adjustable to suit the needs of the individual, with excellent lumbar support to cushion your back. You can find a good list of chairs here.
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2. Your Monitor is Killing Your Eyes
They say the eyes are the window of the soul. In other words, it’s priceless. That said, most of us give little thought to our eyes as we stare at the monitor for a good part of our waking hours. During the little time we do take breaks, we’re staring at our phones. Is it any wonder cases of myopia, glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye diseases have skyrocketed in modern times?
How to Fix It: Most important of them all- remember to rest your eyes at least a few minutes every hour. Stare outside your window, focus on a far away object to vary your focal distance. Muscles in your eyes are just like any other- exercise them regularly to keep them healthy.
For your monitor, purchase a modern LED/LCD monitor that’s flicker free. You can further shield your eyes by getting special computer glasses that filter out potentially damaging blue light emitted by most monitors.
3. Your Desk is Leading You to an Early Grave
At first glance, it’s probably hard to discern how your desk can be the primary silent killer in your workplace, though it becomes clearer when you realize the type of behavior a typical desk encourages- sitting down. Numerous studies have now confirmed the health risks associated with sitting for too long, regardless of the amount of exercise you do on a routine basis. This is scary indeed.
How to Fix It: The easiest way to fix this problem is to get a quality desk stand (also called risers). A desk stand sits on top of your existing desk, and elevates your entire workspace, up to your chest level and everything in between. This enables you to alternate between sitting and standing periodically while you work, greatly mitigating the health risks associated with prolonged, sustained sitting.
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4. Your Keyboard and Mouse are Forcing you to Leave Work
The standard keyboard and mouse are an ergonomic nightmare, forcing your wrist and fingers to contort to an unnatural position for hours on end. Workplace repetitive strain injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome lead the pack when it comes to workplace absences by length of time.
How to Fix It: Ditch the standard keyboard and mouse that comes with your computer, and opt for more ergonomic ones. For a keyboard, a split pane keyboard such as the Microsoft Sculpt comes highly recommended, while for the mouse, consider one with a trackball to minimize travel distance when maneuvering it.
Other things to look out for
When it comes to the workplace and your health, no number of ergonomic upgrades can replace one thing, and that is taking breaks often, and breaking the mold of staying in the same posture or position for long stretches of time. Get up, stretch, walk around, and take short but frequent dates. Combine that with the proper ergonomic equipment, and your workplace can start working with you, instead of against you and your health.